On silky hair and toxic humans


If you are exposed to the sun, wind, chemical treatments, heat from blow dryers, chances are, you have dry hair. And if you are like me, you can write a book about the steps you have taken trying to make it silkier and shinier and to keep away that frizz that you occasionally have.

If you live in Canada, our progressive neighbor to the North, you can continue to use hair care products to keep the frizz down, because soon they won't contain dangerous chemicals. In the U.S., watch out!

Recently, the Canadian federal government decided to place two silicon-based chemicals known as D4 and D5, on its list of toxic substances. The two chemicals are used widely in shampoos and conditioners and are credited with giving the hair silky, shiny and smooth feeling. They are also found in numerous other items, like body lotions, soaps, lipsticks, baby bottle nipples, cookware and home cleaning products. According to our own analysis, we found them in more than 1 out of every 7 products from the 40, 000 we surveyed.

Canada is the first country to take such health-based action concerning the chemicals. Both of those (and many others, unfortunately) are extremely persistent, building up in the food chain, the environment, and potentially in people.

While Canadians should be applauded for their action to reduce the use of these toxic chemicals under its Chemical Management Plan program, our own EPA has yet to publish a single study or assessment on D4 and D5 under its own program, the High Production Volume (HPV) chemical challenge. The two have been prioritized for assessment in the HPV program since 1998.

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